Lemon Rosemary Tarts

Chef Karista Bennett @ VRAI Magazine

by Karista Bennett

I’ve dreamed about this tart recipe for months. The sweet, tart flavor of fresh lemon combined with the aromatic herby, woody flavor of rosemary atop a slightly sweet shortbread crust. Sounds delicious doesn’t it?

I adore lemon and rosemary together and I incorporate it often into savory dishes. Lemon, Rosemary Roasted Chicken, Rosemary Skewered Chicken Kabobs and Rosemary and Lemon Grilled Lamb Chops – all so flavorful and aromatic. So why not lemon and rosemary in a sweet dish?

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I embarked on the lemon and rosemary journey several months ago and I was determined to find just the right recipe and the right amount of rosemary to lemon for the recipe. Rosemary can either be overpowering or so subtle it’s hard to smell or taste in a dish. Extracting the fragrant oil from fresh rosemary sprigs was key.

Rather than a traditional lemon curd for the tart, I’ve used a custard recipe that I infused with the oil of rosemary and lemon zest. While heating the milk for the custard, I add the rosemary sprig and simmer until it’s fragrant with the subtle flavor of rosemary.

Custard is a bit fussy and it can turn ugly quickly when lemon is involved. Rather than fight with the lemon, egg and milk, I decided to use only the lemon zest, adding it at the end of cooking.

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To make this tart even better, it lies beautifully in a shortbread crust that is just ever so sweet and buttery – making this tart a lovely way to begin the spring season.

Lemon Rosemary Tarts

I’ve prepared individual tarts, but you can certainly prepare one 9-inch tart with this recipe. It makes lovely tartlets as well.

This is the perfect ending to any spring celebration whether it be a wedding or baby shower, Mother’s Day Brunch or a simple spring tea. Sometimes these lovely tarts show up for Sunday Supper, making my family deliciously happy.

Karista working on Lemon Rosemary Tarts with Tank observing_

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Lemon Rosemary Tarts
Makes 6 tarts

Ingredients For the crust

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick unsalted butter), cubed
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Directions For the Crust

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a food processor add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Then add the butter and pulse until it forms a soft dough.
  3. Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan or into greased tartlet or small tart pans. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork several times and then bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Ingredients For the Lemon Rosemary Custard (recipe can be doubled)

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups half n half (half cream, half whole milk)
  • 1 3-inch sprig fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Directions For the Custard

  1. In a small sauce pan add the half n half and the sprig of rosemary over medium low heat. Once it reaches a lively simmer, remove it from the heat and let it sit for about 15 minutes which will allow the rosemary sprig to release its oil.
  2. Next whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually whisk in the flour until it’s evenly mixed and completely incorporated.
  3. Remove the rosemary sprig from the milk and place the pan back over medium heat and bring it just to a boiling point. Remove it from the heat once again and then gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Once the mixture is incorporated place it in the sauce pan and back over low heat, stirring and cooking for about 3-5 minutes or until the custard has thickened.
  4. Whisk in the lemon zest and then pour into the baked tart shells. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and let the tarts cool either counter top or in the fridge.
  5. Garnish with a small rosemary twig or candied lemon peel.

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